Guinness World Records

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Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records logo.svg
EditorCraig Glenday (ed.) [1]
Cover artistJoel Paul (55Design) [2] [3]
LanguageEnglish, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Fijian, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish
SubjectWorld Records
Publisher Jim Pattison Group
Publication date
10 November 1951 – present
Published in English
27 August 1955 – present
Media type
  • Book
  • television

Guinness World Records, known from its inception from 1955 until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records and in previous United States editions as The Guinness Book of World Records, is a reference book published annually, listing world records both of human achievements and the extremes of the natural world. The brainchild of Sir Hugh Beaver, the book was co-founded by twin brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter in Fleet Street, London, in August 1954.

World record Highest value

A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill or sport. The book Guinness World Records collates and publishes notable records of many types, from first and best to worst human achievements, to extremes in the natural world and beyond.

Sir Hugh Eyre Campbell Beaver, KBE was an English-South African engineer, industrialist, and founder of the Guinness World Records

Norris McWhirter writer, political activist and television presenter

Norris Dewar McWhirter was a British writer, political activist, co-founder of The Freedom Association, and a television presenter. He and his twin brother, Ross, were known internationally for the founding of The Guinness Book of Records, which they wrote and annually updated together between 1955 and 1975. After Ross's assassination by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), Norris carried on alone as editor.


The book itself holds a world record, as the best-selling copyrighted book of all time. As of the 2019 edition, it is now in its 64th year of publication, published in 100 countries and 23 languages. The international franchise has extended beyond print to include television series and museums. The popularity of the franchise has resulted in Guinness World Records becoming the primary international authority on the cataloguing and verification of a huge number of world records. The organisation employs official record adjudicators authorised to verify the authenticity of the setting and breaking of records. [4]


On 10 November 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of the Guinness Breweries, [5] went on a shooting party in the North Slob, by the River Slaney in County Wexford, Ireland. After missing a shot at a golden plover, he became involved in an argument over which was the fastest game bird in Europe, the golden plover or the red grouse – it is the plover. [6] That evening at Castlebridge House, he realized that it was impossible to confirm in reference books whether or not the golden plover was Europe's fastest game bird. [7] [8] Beaver knew that there must be numerous other questions debated nightly in pubs throughout Ireland and abroad, but there was no book in the world with which to settle arguments about records. He realised then that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove successful. [9]

Guinness Irish brand of beer

Guinness is a dark Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James's Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759. It is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost 50 countries, and available in over 120. Sales in 2011 amounted to 850 million litres (220,000,000 US gal). It is popular with the Irish, both in Ireland and abroad. In spite of declining consumption since 2001, it is still the best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland where Guinness & Co. Brewery makes almost €2 billion worth annually.

North Slob Natural Reserve in Leinster, Ireland

The North Slob is an area of mud-flats at the estuary of the River Slaney at Wexford Harbour, Ireland. The North Slob is an area of 1,000 hectares that was reclaimed in the mid-19th century by the building of a sea wall.

River Slaney river in Ireland

The River Slaney is a large river in the southeast of Ireland. It rises on Lugnaquilla Mountain in the western Wicklow Mountains and flows west and then south through counties Wicklow, Carlow and Wexford for 117.5 km (73 mi), before entering St George's Channel in the Irish Sea at Wexford town. The estuary of the Slaney is wide and shallow and is known as Wexford Harbour. The catchment area of the River Slaney is 1,762 km2. The long term average flow rate of the River Slaney is 37.4 Cubic Metres per second (m3/s)

Beaver's idea became reality when Guinness employee Christopher Chataway recommended University friends Norris and Ross McWhirter, who had been running a fact-finding agency in London. The twin brothers were commissioned to compile what became The Guinness Book of Records, in August 1954. A thousand copies were printed and given away. [10]

Christopher Chataway British runner and politician

Sir Christopher John Chataway was a British middle- and long-distance runner, television news broadcaster, and Conservative politician.

Ross McWhirter writer, political activist, television presenter

Alan Ross McWhirter was, with his twin brother, Norris, the co-founder in 1955 of Guinness Book of Records and a contributor to TV programme Record Breakers. He was murdered by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1975.

After the founding of The Guinness Book of Records at 107 Fleet Street, London, the first 198-page edition was bound on 27 August 1955 and went to the top of the British best seller lists by Christmas. The following year, it launched in the US, and sold 70,000 copies. Since then, Guinness World Records has gone on to become a record breaker in its own right. With sales of more than 100 million copies in 100 different countries and 37 languages, Guinness World Records is the world's best selling copyrighted book ever. [11]

Fleet Street street in the City of London, England

Fleet Street is a major street mostly in the City of London. It runs west to east from Temple Bar at the boundary with the City of Westminster to Ludgate Circus at the site of the London Wall and the River Fleet from which the street was named.

Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi with two Guinness World Record certificates Kobayashi Takeru, Japanese competitive eater 2.jpg
Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi with two Guinness World Record certificates
The North Beach (Nazare, Portugal) listed on the Guinness World Records for the biggest waves ever surfed. Can you see the surfer%3F (33988985575).jpg
The North Beach (Nazaré, Portugal) listed on the Guinness World Records for the biggest waves ever surfed.

Because the book became a surprise hit, many further editions were printed, eventually settling into a pattern of one revision a year, published in September/October, in time for Christmas. The McWhirters continued to compile it for many years. Both brothers had an encyclopedic memory; on the TV series Record Breakers , based upon the book, they would take questions posed by children in the audience on various world records and were able to give the correct answer. Ross McWhirter was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 1975. [12] Following Ross' assassination, the feature in the show where questions about records posed by children were answered was called Norris on the Spot.

Record Breakers is a British children's TV show, themed around world records and produced by the BBC. It was broadcast on BBC1 from 15 December 1972 to 21 December 2001. It was originally presented by Roy Castle with Guinness World Records founders twin brothers Norris McWhirter and Ross McWhirter. The programme was a spin-off series from Blue Peter which had featured record breaking attempts overseen by the McWhirter twins. Producers of the series over the years were, Alan Russell, Michael Forte, Eric Rowan, Greg Childs, Annette Williams and Jeremy Daldry.

Provisional Irish Republican Army Disbanded Irish Republican paramilitary group

The Irish Republican Army, also known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, was an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate Irish reunification and bring about an independent republic encompassing all of Ireland. It was the most active republican paramilitary group during the Troubles. It saw itself as the successor to the original IRA and called itself simply the Irish Republican Army (IRA), or Óglaigh na hÉireann in Irish, and was broadly referred to as such by others. The IRA was designated a terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom and an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland.

Guinness Superlatives, later Guinness World Records Limited, was formed in 1954 to publish the first book. Sterling Publishing owned the rights to the Guinness book in the US for decades. The group was owned by Guinness PLC and subsequently Diageo until 2001, when it was purchased by Gullane Entertainment for $65 million. [13] Gullane was itself purchased by HIT Entertainment in 2002. In 2006, Apax Partners purchased HIT and subsequently sold Guinness World Records in early 2008 to the Jim Pattison Group, the parent company of Ripley Entertainment, which is licensed to operate Guinness World Records' Attractions. With offices in New York City and Tokyo, Guinness World Records' global headquarters remain in London, while its museum attractions are based at Ripley headquarters in Orlando, Florida, US.


Lucky Diamond Rich is "the world's most tattooed person", and has tattoos covering his entire body. He holds the Guinness World Records title as of 2006
. Lucky Diamond Rich face.jpg
Lucky Diamond Rich is "the world's most tattooed person", and has tattoos covering his entire body. He holds the Guinness World Records title as of 2006.

Recent editions have focused on record feats by person competitors. Competitions range from obvious ones such as Olympic weightlifting to the longest egg tossing distances, or for longest time spent playing Grand Theft Auto IV or the number of hot dogs that can be consumed in three minutes. [14] Besides records about competitions, it contains such facts such as the heaviest tumour, [15] the most poisonous fungus, [16] the longest-running soap opera [17] and the most valuable life-insurance policy, [18] among others. Many records also relate to the youngest people to have achieved something, such as the youngest person to visit all nations of the world; it is Maurizio Giuliano. [19]

Each edition contains a selection of the records from the Guinness World Records database, as well as select new records, with the criteria for inclusion changing from year to year. [20]

The retirement of Norris McWhirter from his consulting role in 1995 and the subsequent decision by Diageo Plc to sell The Guinness Book of Records brand have shifted the focus of the books from text-oriented to illustrated reference. A selection of records are curated for the book from the full archive but all existing Guinness World Records titles can be accessed by creating a login on the company's website. Applications made by individuals for existing record categories are free of charge. There is an administration fee of $5 to propose a new record title. [21]

A number of spin-off books [22] and television series have also been produced.

Guinness World Records bestowed the record of "Person with the most records" on Ashrita Furman of Queens, NY, in April 2009; at that time, he held 100 records. [23]

In 2005, Guinness designated 9 November as International Guinness World Records Day to encourage breaking of world records. [24] In 2006, an estimated 100,000 people participated in over 10 countries. Guinness reported 2,244 new records in 12 months, which was a 173% increase over the previous year. [24] In February 2008, NBC aired The Top 100 Guinness World Records of All Time and Guinness World Records made the complete list available on their website. [25]

Defining records

Sultan Kosen (Turkey) is the tallest living person since 17 September 2009, as verified by Guinness World Records. Fingerprint (4045876833).jpg
Sultan Kösen (Turkey) is the tallest living person since 17 September 2009, as verified by Guinness World Records.
Cracking open a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese as a part of a 2013 world record by Whole Foods Market. [26]

For many records, Guinness World Records is the effective authority on the exact requirements for them and with whom records reside, the company providing adjudicators to events to determine the veracity of record attempts. The list of records which the Guinness World Records covers is not fixed, records may be added and also removed for various reasons. The public are invited to submit applications for records, which can be either the bettering of existing records or substantial achievements which could constitute a new record. [4] The company also provides corporate services for companies to "harness the power of record-breaking to deliver tangible success for their businesses." [27]

Ethical and safety issues

Steven Petrosino drinking 1 litre of beer in 1.3 seconds in June 1977. Petrosino set record times for 250 ml, 500 ml and 1.5 litres as well, but Guinness accepted only the record for one litre. They later dropped all beer and alcohol records from their compendium in 1991, and reinstated the records in 2008. Guinness Beer Record 1977.jpg
Steven Petrosino drinking 1 litre of beer in 1.3 seconds in June 1977. Petrosino set record times for 250 ml, 500 ml and 1.5 litres as well, but Guinness accepted only the record for one litre. They later dropped all beer and alcohol records from their compendium in 1991, and reinstated the records in 2008.

Guinness World Records states several types of records it will not accept for ethical reasons, such as those related to the killing or harming of animals. [30]

Several world records that were once included in the book have been removed for ethical reasons, including concerns for the well being of potential record breakers. For example, following publication of the "heaviest fish" record, many fish owners overfed their pets beyond the bounds of what was healthy, and therefore such entries were removed.[ citation needed ] The Guinness Book also dropped records within their "eating and drinking records" section of Human Achievements in 1991 over concerns that potential competitors could harm themselves and expose the publisher to potential litigation. [31] These changes included the removal of all spirit, wine and beer drinking records, along with other unusual records for consuming such unlikely things as bicycles and trees. [31] Other records, such as sword swallowing and rally driving (on public roads), were closed from further entry as the current holders had performed beyond what are considered safe human tolerance levels.

There have been instances of closed records being reopened. For example, the sword swallowing record was listed as closed in the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records, but the Guinness World Records Primetime TV show, which started in 1998, accepted three sword swallowing challenges, and so did the 2007 edition of the Guinness World Records onwards. Similarly, the speed beer drinking records which were dropped from the book in 1991, reappeared 17 years later in the 2008 edition, but were moved from the "Human Achievements" section of the older book [32] to the "Modern Society" section of the newer edition. [33]

As of 2011, it is required in the guidelines of all "large food" type records that the item be fully edible, and distributed to the public for consumption, to prevent food wastage. [4]

Chain letters are also not allowed: "Guinness World Records does not accept any records relating to chain letters, sent by post or e-mail."

Difficulty in defining records

For some potential categories, Guinness World Records has declined to list some records that are too difficult or impossible to determine. For example, its website states: "We do not accept any claims for beauty as it is not objectively measurable." [30]

On 10 December 2010, Guinness World Records stopped its new "dreadlock" category after investigation of its first and only female title holder, Asha Mandela, determining it was impossible to judge this record accurately. [34]

Verifying existing records

Guinness World Records website publishes selected records and is not supposed to be used for the record verification purposes, as it explains: "There are more than 40,000 current records in our database and we try our best to feature as many as possible online. We currently include over 15,000 records online which we update every week, so make sure to check the site regularly!" The book printed annually contains only 4,000 records. The only way to verify a record is to contact Guinness, and the average response time is 12 weeks. [35]


Guinness Museum in Hollywood 6764 Guinness.JPG
Guinness Museum in Hollywood

In 1976, a Guinness Book of World Records museum opened in the Empire State Building. Speed shooter Bob Munden then went on tour promoting The Guinness Book of World Records by performing his record fast draws with a standard weight single-action revolver from a western movie type holster. His fastest time for a draw was 0.02 seconds. [36] Among exhibits were life-size statues of the world's tallest man, Robert Wadlow, and world's largest earth worm, an X-ray photo of a sword swallower, repeated lightning strike victim Roy Sullivan's hat complete with lightning holes and a pair of gem-studded golf shoes on sale for $6,500. [37] The museum closed in 1995. [38]

In more recent years, the Guinness company has permitted the franchising of small museums with displays based on the book, all currently (as of 2010) located in towns popular with tourists: Tokyo, Copenhagen, San Antonio. There were once Guinness World Records museums and exhibitions at the London Trocadero, Bangalore, San Francisco, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, [39] Atlantic City, New Jersey, [40] and Las Vegas, Nevada. [41] The Orlando museum, which closed in 2002, was branded The Guinness Records Experience; [39] the Hollywood, Niagara Falls, Copenhagen, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee museums also previously featured this branding. [41]

Television series

Guinness World Records has commissioned various television series documenting world record breaking attempts, including:

Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Australia's Guinness World Records Seven Network 2005 Grant Denyer
Shelley Craft
Australia Smashes Guinness World Records2010 James Kerley
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria Световните рекорди Гинес bTV 2006–2007Krasimir Vankov
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China The Night of Guinness in China CCTV 2006–Wang Xuechun
Zhu Xun
Lin Hai
Flag of France.svg  France L'émission des records(1999–2002)
L'été des records(2001)
TF1 1999–2002 Vincent Perrot
L'été de tous les records(2003–2005)
50 ans, 50 records(2004)
France 3 2003–2005 Pierre Sled
La nuit des records France 2 2006 Olivier Minne
Adriana Karembeu
Le monde des records W9 2008–2010 Alexandre Devoise
Karine Ferri
Les trésors du livre des records Gulli 2015 Fauve Hautot
Willy Rovelli
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Guinness World Records - Die größten Weltrekorde RTL Television 2004–2008 Oliver Welke (2004)
Oliver Geissen (2005–2008)
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece Guinness World Records Mega Channel 2009–2011 Katerina Stikoudi (2009-2010)
Kostas Fragkolias (2009–2010)
Giorgos Lianos (2010–2011)
Flag of India.svg  India Guinness World Records – Ab India Todega Colors TV 2011 Preity Zinta
Shabbir Ahluwalia
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Lo show dei record Canale 5 2006 (pilot)
Barbara d'Urso (1–2)
Paola Perego (3)
Gerry Scotti (4, 6)
Teo Mammucari (5)
La notte dei record TV8 2018 Enrico Papi
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand NZ Smashes Guinness World Records TV2 2009 Marc Ellis
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines Guinness Book of World Records Philippine Edition ABC 2004Cookie Calabig
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland Światowe Rekordy Guinnessa Polsat 2009–2011 Maciej Dowbor
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal Guinness World Records Portugal SIC 2014 Rita Andrade
João Ricardo
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain El show de los récords Antena 3 2001–2002 Mar Saura
Manu Carreño
Mónica Martínez
Guinness World Records Telecinco 2009 Carmen Alcayde
Luis Alfonso Muñoz
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden Guinness rekord-TV TV3 1999–2000 Mårten Andersson (1999)
Linda Nyberg (1999)
Harald Treutiger (2000)
Suzanne Sjögren (2000)
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Record Breakers BBC1 1972–2001 Roy Castle (1972–1993)
Norris McWhirter (1972–85)
Ross McWhirter (1972–75)
Guinness World Records (UK) ITV 1999–2001 Ian Wright
Kate Charman
Ultimate Guinness World Records Challenge 2004 Jamie Rickers
Guinness World Records Smashed Sky1 2008–2009 Steve Jones
Konnie Huq
Totally Bonkers Guinness Book of Records ITV2 2012–2015 Matt Edmondson
Officially Amazing CBBC 2013–2018 Ben Shires
Flag of the United States.svg  United States The Guinness Game Syndicated1979–1980 Bob Hilton
Don Galloway
Guinness World Records Primetime Fox 1998–2001 Cris Collinsworth
Mark Thompson
Guinness World Records Unleashed / Gone Wild truTV 2013–2014 Dan Cortese


With the popularity of reality television, Guinness World Records began to market itself as the originator of the television genre, with slogans such as we wrote the book on Reality TV.

Suresh Joachim Arulanantham is a Tamil Canadian film actor and producer and multiple-Guinness World Record holder who has broken over 50 world records set in several countries in attempts to benefit the underprivileged children around the world. Some world record attempts are more unusual than others: he is pictured here minutes away from breaking the ironing world record at 55 hours and 5 minutes, at Shoppers World, Brampton. Ironing guinness 0357.JPG
Suresh Joachim Arulanantham is a Tamil Canadian film actor and producer and multiple-Guinness World Record holder who has broken over 50 world records set in several countries in attempts to benefit the underprivileged children around the world. Some world record attempts are more unusual than others: he is pictured here minutes away from breaking the ironing world record at 55 hours and 5 minutes, at Shoppers World, Brampton.

Gamer's edition

In 2008, Guinness World Records released its gamer's edition, a branch that keeps records for popular video game high scores, code and feats in association with Twin Galaxies. The Gamer's Edition contains 258 pages, over 1,236 video game related world records and four interviews including one with Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day. The most recent edition is the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition, 2019, which was released September 6, 2018.

British pop music volume

The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums was published from 2003 to 2006, based on two earlier, separate HIT publications, British Hit Singles and British Hit Albums, which began in 1977. It was effectively replaced (in singles part) by the Virgin Book of British Hit Singles from 2007 onward. [42]

Other media

Video games

A video game, Guinness World Records: The Video Game , was developed by TT Fusion and released for Nintendo DS, Wii and iOS in November 2008.


In 2012, Warner Bros. announced the development of a live-action film version of Guinness World Records with Daniel Chun as scriptwriter. The film version will apparently use the heroic achievements of record holders as the basis for a narrative that should have global appeal. [43]

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HIT Entertainment

HIT Entertainment Ltd. is a British-American entertainment company owned by Mattel and originally established in 1982 as Henson International Television. It was founded as the international distribution arm of Jim Henson Productions. HIT owns and distributes children's television series such as Barney & Friends, Bob the Builder, Thomas & Friends , Pingu, Fireman Sam and Angelina Ballerina.

The word Mamihlapinatapai is derived from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the "most succinct word", and is considered one of the hardest words to translate. It allegedly refers to "a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin."

Twin Galaxies is an Organization and Social Media / Social Networking platform that facilitates interaction, achievement, recognition, and competition between people involved in the culture and activity of playing video games. Guinness World Records considers Twin Galaxies to be an official supplier of verified world records.

Centennial Light worlds longest-lasting light bulb

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Dean Gunnarson is a Canadian escape artist also called an escapologist. He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is noted for a series of large scale spectacular stunts done for television. Gunnarson has appeared on television in over 165 countries around the world performing his escapes. Gunnarson has performed over 500 shows across China and his TV escapes have been seen by millions of people there. In 2012 the Chinese Government presented him with "The World's Top Escape Artist" award after a successful escape on live TV. He has also performed across Canada and the US on TV, fairs, shopping malls, sporting events, and for many of the countries top corporations.

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Alastair Galpin is the 2nd biggest Guinness World Records breaker of the 2000s decade, breaking 38 World Records, behind Ashrita Furman. He immigrated to New Zealand in 2002, and says that his career in Record Breaking was inspired when he met champion rally driver, Simon Evans, in Kenya in 1998.

Scarletts Magic world’s tallest living domestic cat

Scarlett’s Magic is a leopard-printed Savannah cat, acclaimed by the Guinness World Records as the former world’s tallest living domestic cat.. She first achieved this record in 2009 when she measured 41.87 centimeters or 16.49 inches from shoulder to toe. One year later, she broke her own record by growing over one additional inch, measuring 45.9 centimeters or 18.07 inches from shoulder to toe. Her international achievement can be seen on page 155 in the 2011 Guinness Book.

Robert Gull is a Swedish motorcycle racer. He won the 125cc Swedish Championship in 2007 and 2008 and he has also competed in the 2007 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup season and in a 2008 125cc World Championship race. Gull held the Guinness World Record for the fastest motorcycle wheelie on ice from 16 March 2014 to 31 January 2015 and achieved it again on 28 February 2015.

Carrie Swidecki is a teacher from Bakersfield who holds various dance game world records.

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